Attorney General Bill Barr won't recuse from oversight of Russia investigation

AG authored memo defending Trump over Comey firing

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U.S. Attorney General nominee William Barr

The Justice Department announced Monday that Attorney General Bill Barr will not step aside from overseeing the special counsel's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, as anticipation grows over when Robert Mueller will deliver his report to the department.

"Following General Barr's confirmation, senior career ethics officials advised that General Barr should not recuse himself from the Special Counsel's investigation," Justice Department spokesperson Kerri Kupec said in a statement Monday. "Consistent with that advice, General Barr has decided not to recuse."

Prior to his Senate confirmation last month, Democrats had raised concerns about a 19-page memo Barr authored in June 2018 as a private citizen, detailing why he believed President Donald Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey a year earlier should not constitute obstruction of justice. He also previously offered mixed opinions about the Russia investigation, having praised Mueller but also publicly criticized political donations that several members of the special counsel's team had made to Democrats.

Barr told lawmakers he would consult with ethics officials on the recusal issue, but he did not make any pledge to necessarily follow their advice on the Russia probe.

Now cleared by ethics officials, the attorney general is poised to receive Mueller's confidential report at any time.

As CNN has previously reported, Barr has been closely consulting with top Justice Department officials on the outlines of plans to handle the highly anticipated report, including to what extent it should be shared with Congress, and by extension the public.

This story has been updated.

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